Don’t Poke a Sleeping Witch – An Unfinished Cautionary Fable

There is a small island off the coast of two countries with an even smaller population. It is not easy to reach and has much larger, noisier neighbours so, as a result, few pay it any attention. To many it seems that nobody cares much about the place, or its issues, but the truth is probably that most minds have limited capacity and they fill them with things which seem more immediate and urgent. This little place doesn’t ever rise to the top of priority lists.

The waters around this little rock in sea have been discovered, and are being exploited, by big Corporations determined to make a lot of money (although truthfully, most of that income comes from Government subsidies). The Powers That Be assume these operations will not only mollify their largest donors but also maybe provide a few dollars to the locals – all the better to keep the latter quiet and off the radar.

Last summer those quiet locals started making noise. Some of the operations were violating a whole slew of regulations – which is easy to do as nobody comes to monitor their activities. The actions in question are not only contaminating the waters but also interfering with the only real industry on the Island – fishing.

Contact was made with the Companies involved, with a variety of Government Departments (Coast Guard, Fisheries, Transport) and with the local (which in this case means somewhere else on the Mainland) Fisherman’s Association.

As a result, a project was defined and funded by the Government to clean up one tiny Cove of the affected area. The Fisherman’s Association was given the task of awarding the contract and they did. It was a start.

The work was assigned to a fisherman from a neighbouring Island and was scheduled for the Fall. However, he (we’ll call him Homer) wanted to go fishing so it was postponed until after Lobster Season. Then it was postponed again until after Scallop Season.

Unfortunately, Governments base everything around fiscal years and this one ends on March 31. At that point, if the money budgeted for that contract isn’t spent then it disappears. There are just over 2 weeks left to get the work done and word has reached the Island that Homer might be taking a contract with the big Corporation which is in the cross-hairs as far as the violations are concerned.

It’s hard to get confirmation of that since he’s not answering any calls – not even from the Fisherman’s Association which is his boss in this endeavour. Nobody else is answering calls either – personnel at the Association and Fisheries are all remarkably unavailable.

Just offshore from this little Island is an even tinier one. It isn’t known to the outside world, and locals don’t share any information about it, but somebody lives there. Millions of people are familiar with her and her special (let’s call them) abilities. She’s also known to have a temper.

What the majority of Pratchett readers don’t realize, is that she now lives quietly in this remote place just to avoid the annoyance of idiots. They do know of her fearsome reputation though – “she is like the prow of a boat, seas part when she approaches“. There is a reason trolls call her “she who must be avoided“.

Granny does take (when she cares to) a personal interest in this Island nobody else worries about. Conversations have been held with one of her local representatives and a description of the hundreds of salmons nets leaching copper in the local waters was provided. There is hope for a swift reckoning. Certainly, her representative took it seriously.


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